Blogger Labkhand Panbeyi
(Cotton Smile) writes about an encounter with a young beggar:
I entered a restaurant with a great rush and appetite. I chose a cozy corner to sit in order to be able to enjoy my food and plan for the trip I had ahead of me.
I ordered a buttered fish fillet with a seasonal salad and orange juice. Written at the end of the menu was "Do you eat diet food?" ...No
I was turning my laptop on when my attention was diverted to a voice that came from behind me.
-- Uncle...Could you please give me some money?
-- No boy...I haven't got much money with me.
-- Just enough to buy some bread.
-- Fine. I'll buy some for you.
My e-mail inbox was filled with new mails. I had completely lost myself within those poems, little notes, and the funny jokes.
The music reminded me of the good times that I spent in London.
-- Can you please tell them to bring some butter and cheese along as well?
Oh! I just realized that the little boy was still next to me.
-- Fine. But let me attend to my work afterwards. I'm extremely busy, alright?
The waiter brought my food and I ordered some food for the little boy. He asked me whether the boy was bothering me and he should make him leave. My conscience didn't allow me to do that. I told him that it's alright; let him stay and bring some bread and delicious food for him.
The boy then took a seat in front of me.
-- What are you busy with uncle?
-- I'm going through my e-mails.
-- What's an e-mail?
-- Electronic messages that people send each other via the Internet.
I realized that he had not understood a single word of what I had said as he didn't ask any other question.
-- It's mail that can only be sent over the Internet.
-- Uncle...you have Internet?
-- Yes, I do. It is a necessity in today's world.
-- What is Internet, uncle?
-- Internet is where you can see and listen to many things with a computer: news, music, meeting people, reading, and writings, our dreams, jobs, and learning. All of these things exist in a virtual world.
-- What does virtual mean?
I decided to give a straight and clear answer to this so that I could enjoy my meal afterwards.
-- A virtual world is where you cannot touch anything, but whatever you desire would be there; we build up our dreams there and change the world just the way we like it to be.
-- That's amazing, I like it.
-- Did you get what it means, boy?
-- Yes, uncle. I live in this virtual world.
-- How come, do you have a computer?
-- No, but my world is just like that...virtual.
My mother is out of the house most of the time, she comes back late and I don't get to see her that often.
When my younger brother cries because of hunger, we drink water believing that its soup.
My older sister goes out every day. They say she sells her body, but I don't get it because when she comes home she still has her body just the way it was.
I always picture all of my family living in a house with each other, with a lot of food and a lot of toys, and I go to a school in this world, I study to become a doctor one day.
My dad is in prison for years.
Isn't this virtual, uncle?
Before my tears could drop on the keyboard, I shut the laptop.
I waited for the boy who was voraciously gobbling up his food to finish. I paid the bill. That day, I earned one of the purest and most beautiful smiles of my life along with this sentence:
-- Thanks, uncle. You're a good teacher.
There, at that very moment, I passed a major test of virtual ignorance.